posted on 7/2009 By:
In the week I have spent listening to Gwynbleidd’s Nostalgia, despite my best efforts to find another way to describe the record, the same thought keeps coming to me: This sounds like Opeth (The other frequently occurring thought is that Gwynbleidd is one weird-assed name). I could stop the review right here and you would likely have a good idea of what to expect from Nostalgia. However, this album bears the mark of considerable creative effort on Gwynbleidd’s part and thus deserves a more elaborate review.
This Brooklyn, NY trio make liberal use of the tried and true juxtaposition of light and shade: melodic death metal balanced against mellow acoustic (or clean electric) passages. Much like Opeth, Gwynbleidd flavor their death metal with a dash of dissonance. Again, like Opeth, Gwynbleidd’s songs tend to be on the lengthy side, but they never quite reach the bloated stage. Unlike Opeth, however, clean vocals only crop up on a couple occasions, the lion’s share of the vocals being delivered in a death growl.
The members of Gwynbleidd are proficient musicians, but they seek not to impress with virtuosity, nor will their death metal bowl anyone over with its brutality. Gwynbleidd, instead, impress the listener with sheer musicality. Gwynbleidd compose their songs in such a way that they flow smoothly from section to section. Even ostensibly abrupt changes from soft acoustic parts to the heavy, metallic passages never come across as anything but logical. The album flows so well that it feels more like one great composition, rather than a collection of separate songs. While the songs on Nostalgia lack anything resembling a pop-like hook, at every turn there is something to tickle the listener’s ear, be it a catchy melody, a tasteful solo or a memorable riff.
Melody is one of the band’s strong suits: At least one guitar is constantly weaving sinuous threads of melody into the song’s fabric, transitioning seamlessly from phrase to phrase. The guitar parts, in fact, rarely converge, save in the bands heaviest moments. This almost constant presence of separate, but complimentary parts gives the music a grand, orchestral feel.
While Gwynbleidd will have to work very hard to escape from the shadow cast by Opeth, passing the band off as a mere clone would be unfair. Nostalgia is a work of depth and quality and if the listener can get past the similarities to Opeth, it will prove to be a rewarding listen, and one worth repeating.
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